Shenzhen's plan to build its central business area in Futian district is plagued with the same problem that affects the development of almost all mainland cities - lack of investment. Although officials remain optimistic and committed to shifting the focus of development to the area, external factors are not helping. The effects of China's macroeconomic controls are continuing and the oversupply of empty offices and commercial properties in the special economic zone remains. Zhang Yueming, deputy director of the Planning and Land Bureau's City Design Department, said: 'Shenzhen needs to digest the oversupply of offices, that's for sure. 'And there is definitely an impact on the development of Futian and the bid to attract foreign investments. 'But we have a 10-year timetable for developing the Futian city centre [into] a central business district of international standard.' Shenzhen is reported to have 5.4 million square feet of completed residential floor space and 17.2 million sq ft of unfinished floor space in surplus as a result of over-building. Yu Wanjun, the bureau's chief town planner said the older Lowu district, immediately across the border from Hong Kong had established itself as a central district. But potential lay in the newer Futian district, which was being planned as a comprehensive and self-sufficient area. Mr Zhang said Futian would not replace Lowu but the former would be a more comprehensive city district. It was inevitable that the government should move its attention to developing Futian because there was little land left for development in Lowu, he added. To raise Futian's attractiveness to foreign and domestic investors in the wake of the property slump, the Shenzhen government is offering concessionary land prices to investors. Mr Zhang said the government had slashed the price of commercial land lots by 30 per cent from 278.7 yuan (about HK$256.4) per sq ft to 185.8 yuan per sq ft. At the same time, it was exercising stricter controls on leasing new land for property development projects in other districts to control supply, he said. Futian district has an area of 68 square kilometres, of which 4.3 sq km is designated for the city centre. The centre is divided into two areas: north and south. The north is for administrative, scientific and exhibition purposes while the south is mainly for the financial enterprises. Mr Zhang said almost all the 4.3 sq km could be used for property development. One hundred high-rise buildings could be built, representing a total construction area of as much as 96.9 million sq ft. The centre could also provide housing for a population of about 200,000. To date, 90 projects had been approved for development. Basic road networks and infrastructure facilities are in place. Mr Zhang said the concept of putting the city centre in Futian, which would have 10 main projects including office buildings, multi-purpose complexes and trading centres for various businesses, was mooted in 1984. Within the centre, the government wants to build financial, transportation, industrial and tourist hubs. But as much as the government would like developers to seriously consider investing in Futian, many still prefer to put their money in Lowu. Officials said whether the success of the complex would depend to a great extent on the development of the area around Huangkang, another cross-border checkpoint. 'It will also help if more checkpoints are set up,' Mr Zhang said. The city region of Shenzhen comprises Nansha, Futian and Lowu districts which make up a total area of 300 sq km. Of this, 170 sq km is land that can be used for development.